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2012 EPA Research Progress Report

Sparking Innovation for Clean Air

In addition to advancing its own innovative use of air monitoring technologies, EPA is mining the collective efforts of inventors, software and application (“app”) developers, independent engineers, and other innovators to spark the development of the next generation of air pollution monitoring devices and technologies.

The goal is to inspire the development of revolutionary, low-cost, accurate, and easy-to-use air monitors that will provide individual citizens and health protection professionals alike with better pictures of local air quality, and support actions and decisions to protect public health.

In June 2012, EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the “My Air, My Health Challenge”, a call to innovators to create personal, portable, near-real-time, location-specific systems to simultaneously monitor and report air pollutants and potentially related health parameters such as heart rate and breathing.

On November 15, 2012, four finalists were selected from 39 proposals. The four projects include:

  • Ultra-fine particle sensing devices that also measure respiratory function and vital signs.
  • Mobile app and website to link exposures to carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter with heart rates and blood oxygen levels.
  • “Smart” athletic clothing that measures airborne pollutants and relevant health metrics.
  • Integrated modular air quality sensors, breathing games, and a software package that promote public sharing of health information.

Each received $15,000 to move their ideas from the design phase to working prototype, one of which will be selected as the overall winner and receive a cash award of $100,000 in June 2013.

Agency researchers are also providing technical support and evaluation to nine teams from across the United States and Europe that have developed portable sensors for continuous or near-continuous nitrogen dioxide and ozone monitoring.

This collaboration stemmed from the 2012 Apps and Sensors for Air Pollution Monitoring Workshop, which brought outside developers together with EPA researchers. The EPA evaluation team will issue a final report in summer 2013.

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